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Roland Garros 2018

5 things we learned at Roland Garros Day 10:Djokovic's two long years of bad luck and tears

Marco Cecchinato and Novak Djokovic after their quarter final match on 5 June 2018.
Marco Cecchinato and Novak Djokovic after their quarter final match on 5 June 2018. Pierre René-Worms/RFI

  • There’s no love lost between Madison Keys and Sloane Stephens

These two Americans are, like, best friends. So it’s kinda crazy to even think that they might not get along before they play a big match against each other. “That would be so weird,” said Keys when questioned about whether there would be limited contact in the prelude to their semi-final clash. “There are no boundaries,” she chirped. Stephens looked equally perplexed. “When we're not playing, we're fine. But when we get on the court, it's go time and it's time to compete and you have to put everything else aside and you have to compete at your best.” Gross out and gag me if we don’t like, you know, do girlfriend hugs and kisses at the end of the match.

  • Generous Djokovic continues on the road to redemption

It’s been two long years. Two long years of hard luck and tears … no, it’s not the review trying to write a song. But the latter day ballad that epitomises Novak Djokovic could well feature a verse along those lines. The Serb has not hoisted a Grand Slam trophy since his triumph over Andy Murray at Roland Garros in June 2016. It has been a slump. For a couple of years, he was a resplendent beast besting the likes of Rafael Nadal, Roger Federer and Murray. But an elbow injury and a mental meltdown have left him travelling upwards – but from a much lower launchpoint. Djokovic was seeded 20th for this year’s Roland Garros and he progressed to the quarter-final on day 10 without too much ado. But he looked very done when he went two sets to love down against the unseeded Italian Marco Cecchinato. But Djokovic displayed the cool and aplomb that have harvested 12 Grand Slam titles and other crowns to win the third set 6-1. He served for the fourth at 5-3 but couldn’t quite make it. Cecchinato came and won an enthralling fourth set tiebreak 13 points to 11 after saving four set points. Djokovic walked round the net to salute his conqueror. “Well, it's never been hard for me to congratulate and hug an opponent that just shared a great moment on the court,” said Djokovic. “And that’s something everybody should do. I know Marco well. He's a great guy. He deserved it.”

  • Hello Marco

The 25-year-old Italian Marco Cecchinato raised his eyebrow when he was told his adventures at Roland Garros would rocket him up the ATP rankings and into a position to be a seed at Wimbledon. Last year he made the first round on the swards of London SW19. He should be confident. He didn’t even make the main draw at the French Open in 2017.

  • Zverev smiles in his despair

Alex Zverev has been having a brilliant time in the post-match interviews with a journalist from the north of England. And day 10, despite his defeat in straight sets to Dominic Thiem, was no exception. The 21-year-old German was clearly disappointed after struggling with an injury to his left hamstring injury during the match. But he was able to cheer up when he heard Jonathan Pinfold’s Yorkshire accent. “I think you're the only person who will actually make
me smile right now,” said Zverev. And he was visibly chilled afterwards.
“I won three five-set matches in a row, got to my first quarter-final. All
positive,” he added as he reviewed his nine days at the tournament. “The clay court season in general has been very positive. I lost three matches on the clay, all to great players. And I won two tournaments, made two Masters finals. So it's all very positive."

  • It could be Thiem time

Seventh seed Dominic Thiem was ruthless in his destruction of Alex Zverev. He knew that his opponent was lame and did not waste any time killing him off. Their much anticipated quarter-final clash ended 6-4 6-2 6-1 in less than two hours. Thiem reached the semi-final in Paris for the third consecutive year and will take on the unseeded Marco Cecchinato. Thiem won’t have a better chance to reach his first Grand Slam final. However, the pressure will be on him as Cecchinato will be able to swing big. It will be an enthralling match.

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